As we all know, my children and my life are blog fodder. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t realize how truly awesome we are as a family, but then I realize also our similarities. That brings me to my 14 year old Diva, or for this post Dear Daughter (DD). I don’t remember much of my teen years which is a gift and also a curse. Now that she’s a teenager and I’m raising her alone, I remember just enough of the uncomfortable and stupid parts to tell her not to repeat those but to go after awesome opportunities when she can. You know, those opportunities that I was too afraid to embark on. My teens, though tough and brutal at times, are different from the teens of today. For one, I was raised in the 90’s a world removed from a lot of things. Yes, this girl grew up in the country on lots of land. The second thing that is different for my teen is that I didn’t have younger siblings. My parents were smart to stop after they had me. In my home we have constant arguments about who has the most t.v. time, why she can’t watch R rated movies and shows (which is simple, because she’ll end up in my bed because she had a nightmare), and about chores. All three have chores and out of the three, only the younger two feel compelled to do their chores. The expectations for my daughter in her words fee “Harsh and unfair”. It is harsh and unfair that I ask her to clean the bathroom and shower the way it’s supposed to be done and to babysit her brother and sister. She feels the way that I raise the three is not equal. So out I was curious and asked her one day what she felt would be equal. Her response, “I don’t know.” (Can you feel me pulling my hair out now?)
This mornings discussion rested on her transition to her new high school, which is right across the street from our apartment complex. This was our exchange.
DD: “So I’m expected to walk to and from rain or shine?”
DD: “That’s not fair that they get to ride the bus and their school is right across the street.”
Me: “They ride special needs bus.” (Sure this would end this discussion.)
DD: “Still not fair.”
Me: “The world and life are not fair. Get used to it.”
As you can tell, our exchanges involve few words from my mouth because I have found that teens are like wild animals, if you use to many words, they will back into a corner and come out fighting with an arsenal that will make you flinch at moments that are the most uncomfortable. The word fair annoys me to no end. It’s not fair to her that her brother and sister (elementary school students) get home earlier than her, use their time wisely, to do their homework and chores and get to watch Spongebob. It’s not fair that they get to do what they want to do (play with Lego’s and Hot Wheels) and she can’t hang out with her boyfriend alone (um, not the same). It is not fair that she has to scrub the bathroom twice a week, mind you this is her only chore, and go to school, and do homework. And yes, these are typical conversations.
I imagine that had my parents bumped their heads and had another child, I probably would have been competition for fairness. I probably would have also been seeking an equality that does not exist. No one child is parented the same, but the method is the same, the rules are the same, and the parent is the same. My DD feels that there is some inequality and disparity in how she is treated compared to her brother and sister with intellectual disabilities. I know that this is the teenager talking and trying to make her life easier so she can do more of nothing, but fairness and equality don’t exist in childrearing. I know that some parents may disagree with me, but in a single parent household, everyone has to do their part or everything, and I do mean everything, falls apart. You make the mess, you clean it, you want a sandwich and you are capable, you make it, and if you use the bathroom and make a mess, you clean up after yourself. My house is set up by zones and everyone has a zone they are responsible for and there is an inspection process along with rewards (Check back Friday for how I do this.)
I can’t express how frustrating this is, living with a child that seems to live in a perpetual bubble sometimes. This child that has not clue what it’s like to be responsible for herself yet, but like most teens, I imagine, they think that it is easier not being around mommy or daddy. That is is easier to survive on your own and decide when you want to clean, cook, and do laundry. That it is easy to pay bills. Ha…tough love sometimes is the best medicine and parents have to teach those lessons the best way they know how. At the end of the day, my daughter has to learn lessons so that I don’t have to worry about her walking into life unprepared. That is my fear. Going forward, fair is now a profane word in our home. I don’t like it and like dumb, stupid, and jerk (Thank you SpongeBob), will land you in big trouble. Is there equality in parenting? I guess there is when you thinking about fixing ice cream cones or dinner plates. Possibly when you think about bedtimes. That is the only place that equality may live and that’s just based on age. I am a firm believer that structure and love are the way to raise children and I pray that my children turn out to be awesome individuals.